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The dilemna of Islam in the current century.

A look at trends within the Islamic traditions within today's backdraft.

Fourteen centuries after the Prophethood of the last Messenger Muhammad (salawatullahi Alayhi), and after the formal closing of the gates of ijtihad of the four madhahibs within the Sunni Tradition, the evolution of Islamic Philosophical Thought, plus Colonialist and Post- colonialist thought, the evolution of shiite philosophical and intellectual trends and the evolution of an islamic movement that culminated into the Salafi Ideology (Aquidatul Salaf as- Salih) has made many inroads and debates within the islamic community. What Islam are we all aiming to achieve?

This is a very much debatable issue, with each camp springing to memory ayahs and hadiths to determine his theological legitimacy, and to claim that the other group is either deviant (rawafid),idolater (mushrik) or unbeliever (mushrik).

This has been the cause of more than simply bloodshed and discord, and that this has been used against us in the colonial era to partition the Ummah as we see it.

Currently we already are seeing the fruits of this dilemna. The damnation of other people who even believe in the same things we believe, only differring in details of practice and juridical rendering. But where do we all agree?

All agree within the Ahlu Sunna wal Jama'ah tradition, that the tariqahs, the sufi orders are part of the grand theological legacy left by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (salawatullahi alayhi). The Major Shiite Traditions acknowledge Sufism to a certain extent. Calling it the interior manifestation of Islam.A new theological countermovement coming from Saudi and initiated by Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab currently known as Salafism and wahabbism by their detractors, argue it is one of the different manifestations of Kufr.

One would then argue, in a Philippine Context, if Sufism is indeed a manifestation of Islam,

why is it not being widely known or why is there information or publicity against it? Perhaps understanding the underlying historical context would allow us to understand why we do not hear it.

The Philippines actually became Muslim by “Islam by Pressence”. Islam was a way of life for the Sharifite (Tassawuff) groups and Kiysaniyyah (Shia) groups that eventually got intermarried with the local rajahships. This in itself eventually became the manifestation of homegrown Islam.

Antropologically speaking Islam is able to embed itself both in the consciousness of the people once it applies a process of indigenization, in which local non-Muslim attitudes,

mindssts and mindframes are “Islamized”, in short

character has been manifested to both the marriage practices of “Kawin” and Aquiqah practice of “Paggunting”, where an indigenous element is present. This indigenization is not only present in the Philippines but in other parts of South East Asia as well as other parts of the Muslim world.

added an Islamic underpinning to it. This

A new manifestation of Islam, dubbed by others as an extreme and perverse ideology in the minds of fanatics specifically, Wahhabi/Salafi ideology (although a minority fundamentalist religious cult fueled by petrodollars.) Yet underlying, enabling and exacerbating this threat of religious extremism is a global crisis of misunderstanding.

All too many Muslims fail to grasp Islam, which teaches one to be lenient towards others and to understand their value systems, knowing that these are tolerated by Islam as a religion. The essence of Islam is encapsulated in the words of the Quran, "For you, your religion; for me, my religion." That is the essence of tolerance. Religious fanatics--either purposely or out of ignorance--pervert Islam into a dogma of intolerance, hatred and bloodshed. They justify their brutality with slogans such as "Islam is above everything else." They seek to intimidate and subdue anyone who does not share their extremist views, regardless of nationality or religion. While a few are quick to shed blood themselves, countless millions of others sympathize with their violent actions, or join in the complicity of silence.

This crisis of misunderstanding--of Islam by Muslims themselves--is compounded by the

failure of governments, people of other faiths, and the majority of well-intentioned Muslims to

resist, isolate and discredit this dangerous ideology. The crisis thus afflicts Muslims and non-

Muslims alike, with tragic consequences. Failure to understand the true nature of Islam

permits the continued radicalization of Muslims world-wide, while blinding the rest of

humanity to a solution which hides in plain sight 1 .

Why is this ideology so influential? Other than the financing that proseletizers of this creed,

according to Sami Catovic, one of the Teachers at Al-Madina Institute, “Salafi Doctrine is so

empowering. You just let them memorize a few verses and read a few books, they are told to

go forward and teach. Imagine the impact.” Although Traditional Islam hasnt made a direct

head-on response to this, there were actions to to mitigate the effects, but since Salafi

doctrine has a clearcut definition of them and us, and the definitive delineation that if youre

not with us or dont do what we do youre considered non-Muslim, such a consciousness is

seen dangerous. Considering the bloodshed that began with abdulwahab when he teamed up

with the Saud House and started removing traditionalists from Hijaz and embedding his

version of Islam despite opposition from members of his own family who were acknowledged

scholars of Ahlu Sunnah wa Jama'ah.

So, one of the dangers with conversion is conversion is an extremely powerful experience.

And Gandhi once noted about Mohammed (inaudible), an Englishman who became Muslim,

he said he was that rare breed of man who was capable of adopting a new religion without

becoming a fanatic. So unfortunately it’s quite common for people who have strong

conversion experiences to enter with a lot of zeal. And because of that, they’re susceptible at

that period in their life to whatever ideas they happen to be exposed to at the time, believing

them to be the sound ideas or principles of this new adopted religion 2 .

1 Wahid, Abdurahman;Right Islam vs. Wrong Islam , “Muslims and non-Muslims must unite to defeat the Wahhabi ideology.”Friday, December 30, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

And the other very serious concern is in the prison population, because many of the people

that adopt Islam within the prisons are coming from dysfunctional homes and already had

criminal tendencies, and if they come into Islam and are exposed to an extreme form of

Islam, which is very, very possible, [the German convert to Islam] being a good example of

that, then I think it’s potentially extremely dangerous. So if we don’t have really well trained

scholars in the United States that can argue a sound orthodox and moderate Islam that

preaches coexistence and also is able to be adaptive to the needs of modern society. I think

that if we don’t do that, it’s going to really be a major problem, I think, for a burgeoning

population in the West. So I’ll leave it at that. 3

We need to recognize the fact that Imams now must be more fluent with the discourse in

the West and of modernization, with the very specific conditions that Muslims find themselves

Today whether in the secular West or somewhere in a third world country. Because we are in

need of exceptional scholars other than having experiences and backgrounds of both the East

and the West but also of recognizing that we do have unique conditions.

In the Philippines there is a crisis of Islamic scholarship. Although generally Islam is not huge

monolithic monotonic ideological structure but a collage of interwoven cultural traditions

interwoven with Islam as it is seen in the localities. Although indigenization of Islam has

occurred due to the more than four centuries here, there appears to be a strong undercurrent

towards forcing the adoption of an alien face of Islam that has made a rather significant

imprint by a vocal minority.

Among the influx of scholars that have arrived here, there are those who come from India

who graduate in what are called Darul Uloom that are based on the Indian model from

Deoband that do provide a certain level of scholarship. But the scholarship tends to be very

provincial and limited in its scope, and certainly is unable in many ways to address a lot of



the very sophisticated problems that our community is facing as a minority community and a religious community. There are those that come from the local madrassahs that provide a semblance of theological education but highly influenced by who is financing the madrassah. We also have graduates from Libya, Syria, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia who by varying degrees differ not only in the methods of academic discipline, but also try to imprint a version of Islam that is synonymous with where they were trained. What we are unaware that these Ulama has become political vehicles for Middle Eastern politics or something like that, which it often has been made into, unfortunately, because of theological graduates bringing Middle Eastern baggage and other baggage.

Traditionally Ulama in the Philippines come from Malysia and Indonesia from Pesantren and Traditional Madrrasah institutions that have the same level of indigenization as the Filipino Muslims. It was in the 1960's when the process of de-indigenization occurred as a result of the Muslim Filipinos sending their children abroad for higher theological studies as well as those who come from the Middle East after finishing overseas work contracts carrying with them Arab Islam.

As a result you see a collage of Islam in the Philippines, each particular mould seeking to imprint its own image.


Wahid, Abdurahman;Right Islam vs. Wrong Islam , “Muslims and non-Muslims must unite to defeat the Wahhabi ideology.”Friday, December 30, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

HAMID,TAWFIK , THE JERUSALEM POST , “The development of a jihadist's mind ,”Jan.


Alrabaa, Sami, Hypocrite Muslims in Kuwait .

Brenda Shaffer, Harvard University,”It's not about ancient hatreds, it's about current policies: Islam and stability in the Caucasus”.

Yusuf, Sheik Hamza, Interviewed Transcript; "Religion and Foreign Policy Conference

Call with Hamza Yusuf .Islamic Education in America. "September 11, 2007.Council on